Planting and caring for bamboo is relatively easy and I’ve written on that a lot. But, sometimes when people ask “how to grow bamboo”… I believe what they’re really asking is how to grow bamboo from seeds or from root balls.
Growing bamboo from seed should in my opinion be kept to the experts. It’s a relatively difficult task to do because the seeds of bamboo don’t remain viable for long periods of time. They’re also somewhat difficult to obtain in the first place as different species of bamboo may only flower and produce seeds after several years. Some species even take over a hundred years to flower! When the bamboo plants flower they typically die shortly thereafter.
If you happen to have a plant and collect the seeds from it or somehow end up being able to get bamboo seeds somewhere then you can attempt to grow them, but do be aware that you might not get the parents plant.
Germination of Bamboo Seed:
Paper Towel Method.
1. Place the seeds between moist paper towels and put in a plastic bag.
2. Put the plastic bag in a warm (but not hot) area.
3. Watch for germination… If you know the species the seeds came from you may be able to determine how long this should take-in general it can be anywhere from a couple days to years.
4. Once germination occurs take the sprout and place it in a high quality potting mix in a small pot.
5. Place this pot inside of a plastic bag.
6. Make sure the plant gets watered regularly (watch out for soggy soil though!)
7. Position the pot so that the sprout gets light. You don’t want intense light-so either morning or evening sun or put it in a bright area that has indirect light.
8. This may sound simple, but it’s really hard and it takes a lot of trial and error to be successful.
If you have existing plants it may also be possible to dig up what’s called a root ball and plant that. You do this by digging around bamboo plants where you believe you may find one. Once you find a good mass of roots simply use axes to cut out the root chunk. This may sound brutal, but it shouldn’t hurt your current bamboo. This isn’t really a method of propagation, but it does allow you to start a new bamboo plant in a pot and plant it elsewhere later.
photo credit: Bamboo shoot via photopin (license)